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Ancient China. Cool inventions and Cool things. The Yangtze River , called Chang Jiang in Chinese, is the longest river in China and becomes well-known by its Three Gorges scenery. . Papermaking.

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ancient china

Ancient China

Cool inventions and Cool things


The Yangtze River, called Chang Jiang in Chinese, is the longest river in China and becomes well-known by its Three Gorges scenery.



Chinese legend tells that the new invention of paper was presented to the Emperor in the year 105 AD by Cai Lun. Archeological evidence, however, shows that paper was in use two hundred years before then. Either way, the Chinese were significantly ahead of the rest of the world. The craft of papermaking relied upon an abundance of bamboo fiber to produce a fine quality paper. In China the papermaker uses only the traditional materials and methods to produce fine art paper.



Imagine their enemy's surprise when the Chinese first demonstrated their newest invention in the eighth century AD. Chinese scientists discovered that an explosive mixture could be produced by combining sulfur, charcoal, and saltpeter (potassium nitrate). The military applications were clear. New weapons were rapidly developed, including rockets and others that were launched from a bamboo tube. Once again, the raw materials at hand, like bamboo, contributed ideas for new technologies.



The abacus is a calculator for adding, subtracting, dividing and multiplying. Tests have shown that, for operations of addition and subtraction, the abacus is still faster than the electronic calculator.



China is the first country in the world that discovered the use of silk. Silkworms were domesticated as early as 5000 years ago. The production of silk thread and fabrics gave rise to the art of embroidery. Historical documents record the use of embroidery in China as early as 2255 B.C. Archaeological finds, however, place the beginnings of embroidery at some point during the Shang dynasty(1766B.C.-1122 B.C.)



The wheelbarrow was invented by the Chinese. The Chinese wheelbarrow had a single wheel in the middle of the wheelbarrow. Farmers used the wheelbarrow to take a load of produce to the market place. Builders used the wheelbarrow to carry heavy building supplies. Soldiers used the wheelbarrow to remove injured or dead people from the battlefield.


The Terra Cotta Army

More than 35 years ago, in 1974, Chinese farmers were digging a well in central China when they discovered an important archaeological site. They discovered fragments from the burial grounds of a Chinese emperor, Shi Huangdi (Shee-hwang-dee). His name is also spelled Shihuangdi.


Qin was the name of the part of China he ruled. He had his army of more than one million soldiers conquer the entire country in 221 B.C. He united all the little kingdoms he conquered and became an emperor. An emperor is the supreme ruler of an empire.

Like most Chinese, he believed in taking the real world with him when he died. He wanted his tomb to be spectacular, and he certainly would need an army to protect him when he died. Therefore, he ordered a terra cotta (clay) army be built. He ordered that the terra cotta soldiers be set up in formation with their backs to him. The terra cotta soldiers and horses would stand guard in order to protect him from attack.


As many as 700,000 people worked for more than thirty years to make the 7,000 - 8,000 soldiers, horses and chariots. When they were first made more than 2,000 years ago, the soldiers were brightly painted and held real weapons. While molds were used to make the bodies, no two soldiers were alike. They had different hair styles, shoes, expressions and uniforms.

Over the years, the paint has faded, and vandals have taken the weapons. Most of the bodies are smashed because the wooden ceiling that was above them fell, and terra cotta breaks easily. Therefore, most of the soldiers are in bits and pieces. Archaeologists carefully sift through the dirt inch by inch to find the tiniest parts.



By the third century AD, Chinese scientists had studied and learned much about magnetism in nature. For example, they knew that iron ore, called magnetite, tended to align itself in a North/South position. Scientists learned to "make magnets" by heating pieces of ore to red hot temperatures and then cooling the pieces in a North/South position. The magnet was then placed on a piece of reed and floated in a bowl of water marked with directional bearings. These first navigational compasses were widely used on Chinese ships by the eleventh century AD.